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Enbridge asks for another shot: Public comment period open on Northern Gateway’s request to extend its expiring federal approval

3 June, 2016

The Enbridge Northern Gateway project's conditional approval is on track to expire at the end of 2016. To keep its project alive, Northern Gateway has requested a three-year extension from the National Energy Board (NEB) and federal CabinetNow is the time to have your say on whether Enbridge should get another shot.

Imagine for a moment that the Canucks made the playoffs (I know this is confusing and potentially painful for you, but bear with me). Imagine that they’re about to win their series when, with only a couple minutes left before the horn goes, the captain of the other team skates to centre ice and starts making a plea – to the media, to the audience, to the ref, to anyone who will listen:

Poor mines enforcement undermines social licence

1 June, 2016

BC’s government accuses political opponents of being too keen to say “no” to development, but a recent report by BC’s Auditor General, Carol Bellringer, blasted the Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Ministry of Environment for the carte blanche they have provided to mining companies with little monitoring or compliance required after mines have been approved. While poor enforcement hurts the environment and the communities that depend on it, it also hurts industry. As we noted recently, it places responsible businesses at a competitive disadvantage, but at a broader level it also undermines public confidence in the industry as a whole – destroying the social licence of the mining industry and other regulated industries. If we want BC communities to say “yes” to resource development, we need strong environmental laws and we need confidence that our government will stand up and ensure those laws will be followed.

BC’s government accuses political opponents of being too keen to say “no” to development, but a recent report by BC’s Auditor General, Carol Bellringer, blasted the Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Ministry of Environment for the carte blanche they have provided to mining companies with little monitoring or compliance required after mines have been approved.

How do we make the environment a top issue in Supernatural BC’s next election?

26 May, 2016

One year to go until BC’s next election - what role will defending our natural environment play? A recent poll from Insights West contains good and bad news for environmentally-minded voters, but nonetheless reminds us that the environment can and should play a major role in the coming election. Share your ideas in keeping the environment front and centre in the lead up to the election.

One year to go until BC’s next election - what role will defending our natural environment play? Read on to see what the polling is telling us, and to share your ideas in keeping the environment front and centre in the lead up to the election.

A recent poll from Insights West contains good and bad news for environmentally-minded voters, but nonetheless reminds us that the environment can and should play a major role in the coming election.

Making a splash: Time for Canada to catch up as marine protected area networks take off around the world

16 May, 2016

Canadians love parks and wilderness. Banff, Nahanni, Algonquin, Gros Morne – these names are etched in our consciousness. Yet we’re less familiar with the grandeur and ecological wonders of Canada’s ocean world. It’s time to make a splash and make Canadians proud of this essential part of our natural heritage and life support system.

Photo credit: Bram Cymet.

Canadians love parks and wilderness. Environment Minister Catherine McKenna recently said the most popular item in the federal budget was free admission for Canadians to all national parks in 2017, to mark Canada’s 150th birthday. 

Taking action on fish habitat protection

26 April, 2016

Momentum is growing to get habitat protection reinstated into the federal Fisheries Act through a petition launched recently by a network of scientists, First Nations, and organizations including West Coast Environmental Law. Below is a guest post by authors from both coasts about the need to make this change to Canada’s law.

Momentum is growing to get habitat protection reinstated into the federal Fisheries Act through this petition. The petition got a boost when Margaret Atwood tweeted it to all her followers this past weekend – please circulate widely.

Below is a guest post written by authors from both coasts about the need to make this change to Canada’s law.

First Nations, Scientists And Conservationists Call For Swift Action By Fisheries Minister To Scale Up Fish Protection

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Vancouver, BC, Coast Salish Territories– In a brief released today, West Coast Environmental Law, supported by First Nations, scientists and conservation groups, is calling for Canada’s Fisheries Minister to act immediately on his mandate to “restore lost protections” for fish habitat gutted by the former Conservative government.

Scaling Up the Fisheries Act: #Act4Fish

24 March, 2016

Fish matter to Canadians. Fish habitat, called the “bedrock” of fisheries by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), matters. And so the law to protect fish and their habitat really matters. That's why WCEL launched Scaling Up the Fisheries Act: Restoring Lost Protections and Introducing Modern Safeguards, a brief that outlines preliminary ideas on reforming Canada’s essential fisheries law.

Mining good and bad news from a Mines Act announcement

15 March, 2016

Good news and bad news on the environmental enforcement front from a recent BC government announcement on improving tools for Mines Act enforcement. Bad news: Energy and Mines Minister, Bill Bennett, confirmed the government only lays charges when mining corporations refuse point-blank to follow a government order to comply with the law. Good news: the government is moving to create a new enforcement tool which will allow significant penalties to be imposed without the need to go to court.

Good news and bad news on the environmental enforcement front from a recent BC government announcement on improving tools for Mines Act enforcement.

CPR for Rivers - the Need for Regulations to Conserve, Protect, and Restore Environmental Flows in BC

1 December, 2015

Water, water everywhere. At this wet time of year, it may not seem that protecting the amount of water flowing in streams and rivers throughout the province is a top priority. Yet when you think back to this summer’s severe drought, or read that we’re headed for another troubling year for sockeye, as spawning salmon returns are far lower than predicted, it becomes clear why West Coast Environmental Law and many allies recently wrote to the government of BC setting out our Expectations for Environmental Flows Regulations  under the BC Water Sustainability Act. Our number one point: the government needs to have an environmental flows regulation. 

Water, water everywhere. At this wet time of year, it may not seem that protecting the amount of water flowing in streams and rivers throughout the province is a top priority.

Is BC’s environmental enforcement plummeting because conservation officers are stuck at their desks?

21 September, 2015

During the summer a news story on Global TV suggested that BC has too few conservation officers to deal with all of the problem wildlife calls. The key report that Global based this story on also helps explain why BC's enforcement of environmental laws been dropping for well over a decade. We review the reductions in the "field staff" within BC's Conservation Officer Service and what it means for BC's environmental laws.

During the summer a news story on Global TV suggested one reason BC was quick to order a conservation officer to kill two bear cubs was because there were too few conservation officers to deal with all of the problem wildlife calls.

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